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Featured Profile: Leslie Lyons

Leslie Lyons

Ancient Egyptians revered cats as gods. Dr. Leslie Lyons wouldn’t go that far – but as a model for human disease, she believes they have a lot to offer.

“Everything you need to know about genetics, you can learn from your cat,” says Lyons. “Cats have genes like humans that cause blindness, heart disease and kidney disease.”

Lyons, a world-renowned feline geneticist, came to MU in 2013 to collaborate with other acclaimed clinicians and geneticists in veterinary and animal sciences. Her arrival is a win for both cats and humans. Among Lyons’ many achievements is her development of DNA tests for feline polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is also one of the most common inherited diseases in humans. The research from her laboratory, playfully named “the Lyons’ Den,” could eventually lead to new treatments for people with PKD. “The cat is a significant model for this disease to develop gene and drug therapies that do not exist in humans,” she says.

The move to MU offers new opportunities, such as a partnership with researchers in the School of Medicine to seek cures for inherited blindness, and allows her to expand her feline research efforts. The result: Lyons is glad to be a Tiger.

Dr. Leslie Lyons is a Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine at MU’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine